DIAL summer school on multidisciplinary inequality research

DIAL held a summer school for early career researchers on 17–19 August 2020 on the topic of multidisciplinary inequality research. Due to the covid-19 pandemic, the summer school was held online. Each summer school day started with a keynote lecture, all of which were open to registered participants. In addition to DIAL, these lectures were sponsored by the Inequalities, Interventions and New Welfare State research flagship center (based at the University of Turku), and the Turku Center for Welfare Research.

Anders Stenberg from Stockholm University gave a lecture on “Outsourcing Domestic Services and Female Earnings; Panel Register Data Evidence from a Reform” in which he presented his multidisciplinary research on a Swedish tax reform that lead to greater use of paid domestic services, such as cleaning. The research examined how this had impacted women’s labour force participation and thus their earnings. The talk also included a specific focus on the method used in this research, namely propensity score matching.

Sonia Bhalotra from the University of Essex gave a lecture on “Infant health, cognitive performance and earnings: Evidence from inception of the welfare state in Sweden” in which she presented research where digitized historical health and school records had been linked to register data to analyse the long-term impacts of one of the world’s first infant health interventions. She also focused on methodological considerations in terms of causal identification strategies using difference-in-difference approaches.

Rolf van der Velden from Maastricht University gave a lecture on ““It’s the skills, stupid!?”, on the role of education on labour market success” with the additional subtitle of “It’s not just the skills, stupid!?” in which he reviewed three approaches to the role of education and skills for labour market success in terms of their theoretical starting points as well as the empirical evidence for and against these approaches. He concluded that institutional influences have a major impact on the way in which education and skills are related to labour market success and that this should be addressed better in future research.

Each lecture was followed by summer school sessions where early career researchers from DIAL projects and the INVEST flagship research center presented their work-in-progress and gained feedback from both each other and the summer school teachers. The papers presented in the summer school covered various topics including demographic influences on women’s income trajectories, the role of parenting practices and genes for educational attainment, and labour market inequalities related to educational pathways and sexual orientation.

All the summer school teachers shared their experiences of conducting multidisciplinary research both in terms of the benefits as well as the challenges therein. Working in multidisciplinary teams was seen as particularly positive when different team members bring complementary and necessary expertise to a research question. However, different publication requirements across disciplines and issues of disciplinary boundary-making sometimes need to be negotiated.

Despite the fact that the summer school had to be held online, the early career researchers – and the teachers – participating in the summer school felt that it was a good experience, that the discussions were lively, and that the feedback on the papers was valuable – even if it would have been nicer to interact face-to-face!

You can read more about one summer school participants experiences here.